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Linfield alum joins commencement walk with granddaughter

Catherine Lever ’12 had a special visitor when she graduated from Linfield College in May. Her grandmother, 74-year-old Linfield alumna Joanna Lever ’60, was invited back to her alma mater as a Golden Grad, and marched again, this time with her granddaughter.

“I am thrilled for her,” Joanna said of her granddaughter. “I’ve watched her grow from a small child to an adult, and we’re very close. I always think, ‘Wow, look at that. She’s my granddaughter. How did that happen?’”

Joanna sang in the a cappella choir and graduated in elementary music education in 1960, while her granddaughter Catherine developed her singing talents with vocal lessons, but graduated in business.

Joanna met her husband Daniel at Linfield. “A bridge across a wooded ravine provided a wonderful spot for courting couples,” she said. “Many serious romantic events happened there, and when it was taken down, there was an outcry. Everyone said, ‘What? How are girls going to get proposed to?’”

Catherine attended Linfield football games with her grandfather Daniel, who passed away in 2009, but she kept the family tradition of involvement with athletics alive. “My favorite memories of Linfield will be the close community that has grown up around sports events,” she said.

Catherine’s brother Dan played on the Linfield College football team until he graduated in 2009, and her great-grandfather Henry Lever re-energized the school’s athletic program after World War II ended and male students returned to campus. He led the Wildcats to their first Northwest Conference titles in football and baseball, and helped redesign the stadium. Today the campus street that runs by the school’s athletic complex bears the Lever name.

Catherine was inspired by a campus lecture about the early Oregon wine industry, and hopes to use her business degree to pursue a career in the wine industry. Her only disappointment, she says, is that she couldn’t also pursue majors in biology, environmental studies, English, chemistry and music.

“There’s a bittersweet feeling when you graduate,” her grandmother said. “You’re excited, but sad. College was a wonderful experience for me, but you have to go forward and make your life. You have to become a real grownup.”

SPRING COMMENCEMENT PHOTO GALLERY

“Newest grads greeted by oldest,” News-Register story